Durban - A glib remark suggesting he marry his male abuser was what led a 33-year-old Durban man to stab his mother to death with a screwdriver, the Durban High Court heard.
On Friday Acting Judge Sharon Marks deviated from the minimum sentence for murder and sentenced the man to 12 years in prison, after finding compelling and substantial circumstances in mitigation of sentence.
After listening to the man’s account of abuse at the hands of a trusted family friend – and years of disregard from his family, even after his abuser was allegedly convicted for molesting another boy – Marks said: “A very tragic story has unfolded in court today.”
It was a story of a young man’s angst, and the inability – or unwillingness – of his family to deal with what they apparently considered to be the shame of sexual abuse. The murderer’s name has been withheld because he was the victim of a sexual assault.
In his written plea read out by his lawyer Thiagaraj Pillay, the man said he was 12 years old when he was sodomised by his soccer coach and close family friend, who was named in court papers.
The coach would help the family pay rent, he said, as well as pay the utility bills, buy groceries and alcohol for his father.
The man said the abuse started with massages after soccer practice. The coach would make him watch pornographic movies and massage his private parts, the man said, and eventually, he raped him.
The abuse continued for more than a year.
The man said the coach threatened him and told him not to tell anyone, and that even if he did, no-one would believe him.
“[He] knew I wanted to play soccer professionally and told me that he knew people and could arrange to get me into training academies for young players,” he told the court.
Despite being threatened, the man told his parents about the rape, to which they responded: “What will the neighbours say if they heard this?”
His parents removed him from his high school and sent him to live with his aunt in Phoenix where he attended school.
The coach used to park his car outside the school, the man said, but stopped after he complained to his aunt.
In Grade 8, the man said he had heard that his abuser had been convicted and sent to prison for molesting a boy.
Seeking validation, he went to his parents and said: “Now do you believe me?” They had not responded.
“I realised I was alone and couldn’t depend on anyone.”
The man worked as a manager at various shops and supported his family. He divorced last year after four years of marriage.
He said he had confided in his wife about the abuse and whenever they would argue, she called him a “moffie”.
In 2010 he said he started to see the coach again.
During this time he had been drinking heavily and taking cocaine.
In September last year, the week of his mother’s death, the man said his mother repeatedly asked him to call the coach to arrange work for his father.
He had refused.
On September 26, after consuming half a bottle of brandy, he said he had an argument with her about the coach.
He asked her why he had never been taken to a social worker. She replied that she knew something was wrong but didn’t think it was serious. He became angry and accused her of “playing dumb”.
“We got into an argument and then my mom said, ‘Why doesn’t [the coach] make you his wife?’
“I lost my composure.”
He picked up a screwdriver lying on the table and stabbed her several times. He
was arrested three days later.
“I was wrong. No amount of time in jail will erase what I’ve done,” he said. “I miss my mom a lot. I feel like a monster for what I’ve done.”
Arguing in mitigation of sentence, his lawyer said that had it not been for the adversities he had faced; the man would not have killed his mother. “Despite not gaining support, it’s evident that he loved his family,” Pillay said. “This is one of those cases that deserves mercy.”
With the defence and State in agreement, Marks agreed and deviated from the minimum sentence of 15 years for murder.
With tears in his eyes, the man told the Daily News that his family was coming to terms with what he had done.
“What can I do now? I have to live with the pain,” he said as he disappeared behind the grille. - Daily News